Upper Fall Creek Falls

I took a shot at a little-traveled waterfall above Fall Creek Falls, a popular location.  It was only 0.3 miles up the creek.  Should be a piece of cake, right?


This is Fall Creek Falls, one of maybe 4 or 5 such named places in Douglas County alone.  There are probably dozens state-wide.  Can we not come up with better names for these places?  For what it's worth, Fall Creek is one of the best family hikes in the area.  I've never been big on the waterfall but the trail is nice.  Every time I drive by the parking lot, it's full.  This time, there were a few cars and people smirk at my semi-serious backpack and boots as they flip-flop by.

I took the trail that goes past the falls to the road above.  The upper waterfall only measured about 0.3 miles along the creek.  How hard can it be?

 

A nice little spot where and about where the bootpath ends.  The bootpath is almost certainly from wildland firefighters.  There was also a water pipe through this area.

 

Some interesting volcanic rock formations throughout here that look very similar to what is seen at Fall Creek.

 

Here's some land plants growing in the middle of the stream.

 

There were a couple of these sprinkled throughout.

For the record, this hike was a real pain and felt like the hardest sub-1.0 mile hike I'd ever been on.  My assumptions of this hike being easy are what cloud my perception of it being hard.  In reality, it was somewhere in between.  A fire had ripped through recently, which allowed a huge amount of brush to spring up in addition to a bunch of downed logs.  It was more annoying than hard and there were few spots to clever my way around the tough spots.

On the way to the waterfall, I ran across some flowers.

An Oregon iris, which is just as bad of a name as Fall Creek Falls.

 

Yellowleaf iris is okay as a name, but a little underwhelming, especially since they only have a splotch of yellow.

 

A toughleaf iris is not only a step in the right direction, but arguably has a much cooler color scheme as well.  If these were running shoes, they'd look pretty sweet.

 

Crimson columbine have always looked orange to me.

 

As names go, windflower is way up there.  And it's a beautiful thing as well.  This one was poking up through a sea of clover.

 

This scaphinotus ground beetle waited patiently for me to take a photo and leave it alone.  This was surprising because they are so fast and active that they're often hard to photograph.

 

One thing I really enjoy about being in the wild is seeing creatures such as this one.  It has some scars, dents, and is covered in mud from being in the forest.  I too have those same scars, dents, and mud from my time walking around in the wildlands.  There is a fascinating connection that occurs upon this realization that this beetle and I share similar experiences as we wander through the forests looking for things that are of interest to us.  I get my picture, notice these feelings, and beebop along with a smile of contentment as I continue upon my adventure of more scars, dents, and mud.

It is reminiscent of a quote from Wendell Berry:

"And so I go to the woods.  As I go in under the trees, dependably, almost at once, and by nothing I do, things fall into place.  I enter an order that does not exist outside, in the human spaces...I am less important than I thought.  I rejoice in that." Wendell Berry (1969)

Just around the next corner after this synergistic recognition, my happy bubble was popped as foul words entered my head.

I saw a multiple logjams up ahead.  This last that series of logjams.  They were all pretty loose and therefore, pretty sketchy.  Awesomely, they all featured burnt logs, so I got covered in lots of ash.

 

Here's a cool looking tree root growing along the rocky bank.

 

What's special about this photo?

 

While this type of phototropism is not uncommon in vine maples, it's still neat to see all those sprouts growing straight up over the creek.

I kept checking my GPS to see how much further and it said I had one little bit left before the waterfall.

 

Note the yellow sign.  One thing I sorta ignored was that the lidar images showed a small, tight box canyon just before the waterfall.  I assumed I could weasel my way through like I always seem to do.

 

What a nice little spot.  Unfortunately, that water in the pool is pretty deep and I did not have the type of equipment with me that would be necessary to handle it.  Because the area with the waterfall was surrounded by tall, sheer cliffs on both sides of the creek, my exploration was essentially done.  It had been a while since I was completely thwarted by a creek.

I knew I didn't want to go back down the creek, so I chanced it and went after a road that showed up on the topo map that was up the hill and kinda close by.  As I climbed, my curiosity got the best of me and I took a peek to see if I could catch a glimpse of the waterfall.

 

That's the top 2/3 of Upper Fall Creek Falls.  I can't imagine me giving this one another try just because of the trickiness of getting inside there.  And the payoff doesn't quite look worth it as well.

As a thunderstorm moved into the area, I decided to get a move on while booming took place overhead.

 

This doesn't look bad, but it was definitely not enjoyable.

 

A weird vine that had attached itself to a tree that died and broke.  Definitely not a rope.

 

I think this beetle is an emerald ash borer, but am not positive.

 

At one point, I looked down and saw one tick on my right knee and two others on my left one.  Amazingly enough, I did not get poison oak nor did I get bit by a tick.

2 thoughts on Upper Fall Creek Falls

  1. I liked seeing and reading about your struggle. The small size of trees in this remote area makes me wonder why. Was it t logged? Was it the fire? How long ago was the fire? When identifying plants it is always best to accompany the common name you give with the Latin or scientific name. Is this a spawning creek? Did you see any steelhead to salmon? The best fish habitat has tons, literally, of wood in the stream, so this one looked excellent for that. Thanks for sharing this tough adventure.

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